Tuesday Talk at Ventfort Hall and on Zoom – ““A Worse Place than Hell: Five Eye-Witness Accounts of the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg”

July 13, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Illuminating the experiences of five eye-witnesses, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Prof. John T. Matteson will cover A Worse Place Than Hell: How the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg Changed a Nation, his newest book. Matteson will give his visual presentation in the library as well as via Zoom here at the mansion on Tuesday, July 13 at 4:00 pm.  His lecture is part of our summer series of Tuesday Talks.

Matteson focuses on three harrowing months of the Civil War and their enduring legacy for America.  December 1862 drove the United States toward a breaking point.  The Battle of Fredericksburg shattered Union forces and Northern confidence. This critical moment also tested five extraordinary individuals whose lives reflect the soul of the nation.  The changes they underwent led to profound repercussions in the country’s law, literature, politics and popular mythology.  Taken together, their stories offer a striking restatement of what it means to be American.

 Young Harvard intellectual steeped in courageous ideals, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. confronted grave challenges to his concept of duty. The one-eyed army chaplain Arthur Fuller pitted his frail body against the evils of slavery. Walt Whitman, a gay Brooklyn poet condemned by the guardians of propriety, and struggling young writer Louisa May Alcott both nursed soldiers’ wracked bodies.  On the other side, John Pelham, a West Point cadet from Alabama, achieved excellence in artillery tactics as he served a doomed cause.

Matteson received the Pulitzer Prize for Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, the subject of his lecture at Ventfort Hall in 2013.  He also received the Ann M. Sperber Prize for The Lives of Margaret Fuller.  He is the Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Admission for the Matteson talk is $20 per person whether via Zoom or by attending at Ventfort Hall. Reservations for attending the talk at Ventfort Hall are required by calling 413-637-3206. To order on Zoom visit https://ventfort07132021.eventbrite.com The historical mansion is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox.  The Summer 2021 series of Tuesday Talks is sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.